WEST BLOOMFIELD RESIDENT PLEADS GUILTY
IN FOOD STAMP FRAUD OPERATION, GUN POSSESSION IN DETROIT
United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today that Dia “Danny” Thweny, 43, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, pleaded guilty today to committing food stamp fraud and unlawful possession of a firearm. These charges stem from the defendant’s operation of Jefferson Liquor Palace Party Store, located at 14507 E. Jefferson, Detroit, Michigan, from November 2006 through March 2009. The pleas were entered and accepted by Chief United States District Judge Gerald E. Rosen.
According to the information provided to the court at the time of the guilty pleas, in November 2006 through March 2009, Dia Thweny, doing business as Jefferson Liquor Palace, an authorized food stamp program retailer, violated the laws governing the food stamp program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, by purchasing food stamp benefits, usually for half of their value, from food stamp benefit recipients, and redeeming the benefits for their full value, a practice commonly known as food stamp “discounting. The defendant also exchanged ineligible items, such as tobacco, liquor, pornographic DVDs and pills purporting to be Viagra, for food stamp benefits in knowing violation of food stamp regulations. The defendant illegally obtained $141,672 in food stamp benefits for cash and ineligible items during that period. Federal law strictly prohibits the use of food stamp benefits for anything but the purchase of eligible food items from authorized program retailers, and explicitly forbids the purchase of food stamp benefits for cash. This is because Congress created and funded the program for the express purpose of helping to feed individuals and families that would otherwise be unable to purchase food to sustain themselves. Additionally, the defendant pleaded guilty to possession of a revolver on March 31, 2009. Because of his prior felony conviction it was illegal for him to possess a firearm that had traveled in interstate commerce.
A sentencing date for the defendant has been set for June 9, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. before Chief Judge Rosen.
The case was investigated by special agents of the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Michigan State Police and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Weier.